By the time the Yale volleyball team finally came alive, it was a little too late.
In their most disheartening loss yet, the Elis (5-4, 0-1 Ivy) dropped their Ivy league opener Friday night 3-2 (30-22, 30-21, 25-30, 23-30, 15-10) to Brown (4-8, 1-0 Ivy) in Providence, R.I.
The Elis were only five points away from completing a stunning 2-0 comeback victory against the Bears when things came apart. In the last four plays, the poor execution and teamwork that plagued the Bulldogs in the first two games of the match cost them the win.
“It was the worst game we had this season thus far,” middle blocker Lauren Burke ’05 said. “We started off the game not ready, and they got a big run on us.”
In the first game, Brown reeled off a 7-1 run to start, establishing the tone for the match. The Bulldogs tied it at 10, but poor team play led to the Bears outscoring the Elis 14-8 and taking a 24-18 lead. The Bears eventually won the first game 30-22.
In the second game of the match, the Bulldogs once again started slowly, allowing Brown to grab a 10-4 lead. Yale rallied again to close the lead to one at 19-18 but blew the next four plays and eventually the game, losing 30-21.
Yale finally warmed up in the third game, outscoring the Bears 21-14. Brown rallied back to within one, at 26-25, before the Elis won the next four points to win the game 30-25.
Finally running on all cylinders, the Bulldogs sped past the Bears in the fourth game, taking seven of the first 10 points and never again trailing, eventually winning the game 30-23.
Yet in the fifth and crucial game, Brown once again proved its dominance, taking the first six points and the last four to win the match 15-10.
Setter Jacqueline Becker ’06 said the poor performance in the first game rattled the Eli squad just enough to keep them from pulling out the comeback victory.
“We had a couple mistakes early on in the first game,” Becker said. “Everyone was kind of worried about their own mistakes instead of playing together.”
The lack of teamwork also led to poor execution. The Bulldogs committed 37 errors and hit a miserable .081 hit percentage, compared to Brown’s .166.
“There were a lot of errors on our side that compounded on each other,” middle blocker Adele Sweetnam ’06 said. “Our ball control was not at the level it normally is.”
Despite the poor overall performances, several individual performances were solid. Captain Jana Freeman ’05 paced the Bulldogs with 18 kills and 21 digs, while outside hitter Shannon Farrell ’07 contributed 13 kills and 17 digs. Burke led the Bulldogs with six blocks.
An unexpected contribution came from Kali Nelson ’08, who had 10 kills and seven digs while committing only three errors, for a team-high attack percentage of .258.
“Offensively [Cooper] had the best match of the whole team,” Burke said. “That was great to see a freshman step up.”
All the Elis will have to step up for their next matches this weekend against Penn and Princeton at home. Penn is the two-time defending Ivy League champions but lost to Princeton Friday.
“We’re really excited to be playing Penn and Princeton,” Burke said. “I think we’re going to really give it to them, and hopefully we’ll win the match[es].”